Italian firm’s 30MW Argentina project gets local government approval

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An Italian firm, ECOS, has signed an agreement to build what is expected to be Argentina’s largest PV plant when completed, a 30MW project in the region of La Rioja.

It was announced this week by the regional government that ECOS executives had travelled to the area to meet with the local governor, Beder Herrera, at his official residence. During the visit, agreements were signed for the construction of the plant which is in Villa Unión in the north-western region of the country. Local news outlets had reported of the company's interest since August, but the inking of the deal has apparently readied the project for its go-ahead.

Argentina only connected its second utility-scale PV plant, a 1MW facility in the central San Luis province, in mid-November. This slow take-off is in spite of measures put in place by the government to stimulate growth towards the beginning of 2013.

Nonetheless, activity may now be picking up, with PV equipment and technology specialist Schmid Group starting construction on a 70MW integrated PV production plant earlier that month. Several analysts have highlighted the potential for PV in Latin America in general, with Chile in particular seeing significant levels of activity recently after what could be considered to be a similarly slow start. In September, NPD Solarbuzz said that 1GW of projects were under construction in Latin America and the Caribbean, from a combined pipeline totalling more than 20GW.

The 30MW plant in La Riojas will require an investment of around US$69 million with construction of the first 10MW expected to begin this month. The initial phase is expected to be connected by mid-2015, following a construction period of about seven months, according to a reported quote from ECOS president Fausto Saccaro.

Saccaro also mentioned that each 10MW phase will cost around US$23 million, hence the US$69 million total. It would be funded by a combination of the company’s own capital resources and the assistance of international finance organisations, which were not named in the La Riojas local government statement or in the national government’s official news and promotional website, which also carried reports. Each of those 10MW phases will take up around 30 hectares of land, with local employees sourced to carry out the work where possible, Saccaro said.

The region of La Rioja also has plans in place, under an initiative launched by national senator Hilda Aguirre de Soria, to develop another 30MW of projects across several towns in the area.

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